This deluxe Mini-14 features a businesslike short-barreled profile combined with…

This deluxe Mini-14 features a businesslike short-barreled profile combined with genuine Circassian walnut stock making it a patrol ready carbine.

When I was overseas working for Uncle Sam, I first heard about the “new” Ruger Mini-14 back in 1975. Personal guns were not encouraged either in that country or on base, and while I was there I read every gun magazine I could find at the BX. Initially available only to law enforcement in blued versions, demand led to opening it up to the general public within 3 years, and stainless steel followed in 1979. I got my first Mini, an early stainless model, in 1980.

As an original hire at a brand new police department that same year, I lobbied the chief long, hard, and totally without success to approve the Mini for uniform carry. The 20-round magazines were readily available, the gun was relatively light and maneuverable, the .223 rounds of the era were effective in most urban locales and engagement distances, and the Mini was both controllable and easy to maintain. It was also more affordable on a cop’s salary than a Colt AR-15. Neither the chief, the assistant chief, nor any of the administration who set policy and/or ran the firearms program saw any need whatever for a rifle in a marked car, and it was another 15 years or so before that attitude finally changed.

davidsone28099s-ruger-mini-14-223-bThe GB-style flash hider is a throwback to LE and government Minis from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Since then the Mini has gone through several iterations with a total revamping of the production process at the plant in 2006. A number of models have been offered to the public as regular catalog items over the years with all-weather stainless versions, synthetic stocks (both hard and Hogue “soft” rubber), laminated wood stocks, “tactical” stocks, a target model, and so on included. Specifications have changed, from external dimensions and rifling twist rates on the barrels to closer internal tolerances elsewhere. I’ve owned and tested several since 1980, and by far the most interesting variation for me is the recent Davidson’s special edition Mini-14.

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